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My girlfriend and I have had our puppy (standard bernedoodle) for just over two weeks now. We are first time dog owners He is coming up on 12 weeks old. We got him from what, by all accounts, is a reputable breeder. She does genetic testing and has been involved with us providing advice and support.

Within the first few days of having him, we noticed some unusual behavior (fearfulness and fear-agression), and have been concerned that we may not be able to provide him with the help he needs to grow into a successful, safe, and happy adult. We have noticed a general level of fear and anxiety that is hard to manage/predict. He has on multiple occasions growled, barked, and lunged at strangers. We're worried what this behavior at such a young age means for his future. Strangely, his reaction to strangers is inconsistent, and doesn't seem to follow a pattern. Sometimes he approaches people like a normal, if somewhat timid, puppy. Other times he is running in the street to avoid interaction or lunging and barking at someone who approaches him.

We reached out to a behaviorist to get their impression and she pretty much said we should explore returning him to the breeder. We live in a somewhat populated area and are struggling to socialize him without triggering his fear. He will grow up to be around 75lbs, and we are not sure we have to the capacity or experience to train him and manage the kind of behavior we're worried about once he is that size. We are already in love with him, but are worried we are biting off more than we can chew. We want to make sure we are doing what is best for him. At the same time we're not sure we're ready for the amount of time/money/commitment a dog like this will require. All this wrapped up with a very normal case of the puppy blues has us struggling.

I have already reached out the the breeder and she echoed the behaviorist's concerns. She said if we needed to return him she would socialize him and find a better home for him. Both the behaviorist and breeder thought he might do better in a home with other dogs.

We're wondering if anyone has had a similar experience? Any advice?

Is it too premature to be making a decision like this?
 

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Return the dog.
It may be heart wrenching.. it is better for all concerned.

I have seen this same thing in a 14 week old (German show line) German Shepherd. The owners paid large $$ for the dog. I watched them at an event at our local park.

This puppy was so afraid of EVERYTHING.. all I could think is how miserable it must be to live so afraid.

It is not typical and it is very different than a puppy that is just concerned out of a lack of exposure to various environmental situations. I was surprised the puppy did not bite anyone that day.. and I mean a serious bite.
 

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Having a fear aggressive/reactive dog is certainly no small commitment. I have a reactive dog who has stranger danger issues, and I would never, ever, willingly go through it again. You have my sympathies. His case has become mild and is easily managed (for the most part). No amount of socialization is going to "cure" the issue...its genetic, and often gets worse as they get older. For example, my dog was perfectly fine with strangers coming into the house, strangers being near, and then around 10 months/1 year (something like that) a switch flipped and he just wasn't. Other than being a sensitive dog and timid and/or reactive to new things, there weren't many indicators. That your puppy is already showing such fearfulness is a fairly certain indicator that things are going to get worse before they get better.

I think that whether or not you can handle it are going to be dependent on your lifestyle. If you're someone who likes to have people over often, go out with your dog, or exercise your dog in areas with lots of people, it's going to be a much harder lifestyle change. If you're a homebody and rarely have strange (to the dog) people in the house or live in a quiet neighborhood where solitary walks are possible, it would be much easier.

-Doodles are "designer dogs", and the temperament issues are rampant. I've never heard of a reputable -doodle breeder and have yet to be impressed. If you should decide you want another dog, we would be more than happy to help you select a breeder who selects for health and temperament above all else. Some are very, very good at duping people into believing they're an ethical breeder.
 

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A reputable breeder identifies puppies like this before they're old enough to go to homes and only places them with people willing and able to deal with them. I'm not a first time dog person, and you could count me among the unwilling.

Also, I agree with others who have mentioned that there is no such thing as a reputable breeder of mixes. Yes, give this puppy back and then do some research about what makes a breeder reputable. It requires a lot more than genetic testing. Then start looking for either a well bred Berner or a well bred Poodle. They're both lovely breeds that don't need to be crossed with anything.

Finally, I can't help but point this out:

Strangely, his reaction to strangers is inconsistent, and doesn't seem to follow a pattern. Sometimes he approaches people like a normal, if somewhat timid, puppy. Other times he is running in the street to avoid interaction
I hope you meant the puppy's on a leash and tries to run into the street. If not, think some more about what you need to do to keep a puppy (and later a dog) safe. Even puppies with the best temperaments in the world shouldn't ever be in a situation where they could run into a street. The unexpected happens, and it takes a lot of training to get a dog to where it's safe and reliable off leash. When my current guy, now 16 months old was younger -- and even sometimes now -- I often accused him of being suicidal, although in his case it was mostly trying to eat things he shouldn't.
 

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I actually do believe that there are reputable breeders of mixed breeds, even doodles, but they're certainly a tiny proportion of people breeding such dogs. And even those people who are trying to do everything right with health screening, temperament testing, and early puppy socialization are dealing with the inherent unpredictability of mixed breed dogs. When you combine two very different breeds with very different temperaments, like poodles and BMDs, sometimes traits combine in a way that's undesireable or unstable.

There's also the issue that it's very, very difficult to get high quality purebreds involved in a mixed breeding program that isn't approved by the breeds' parent club (and such programs almost never get approved), so many mixed breed breeders are starting with dogs who may be out of standard and/or have limited pedigree information, so even if they run every recommended tests and prove the parents are stable dogs with sound temperaments, there may be issues lurking in the lines that the breeder can't be aware of because they can't observe patterns of health and behavior across generations. Yes, many argue that this makes such breeders inherently unethical, but I'm giving this breeder some benefit of the doubt seeing as she's health testing and willing to take back a puppy that doesn't work out - I don't know enough about her program to judge whether she truly did everything in her power to minimize the risk of serious behavior problems.

I do agree that this sounds like extreme fear for such a young puppy, and it probably should have been noticed by the breeder before he went home. At first I was thinking that this might be a fear period, exacerbated by the puppy having its life completely turned upside down by leaving its mom and littermates to go to a new home. But even for a fear period, this intensity of growling, lunging, trying to escape, at only 10-12 weeks(!!!) sounds extremely unusual - I would do as the behaviorist suggested and give him back to the breeder. Very few homes are willing or able to handle a dog with such intense fearfulness from such a young age (which is totally valid and understandable - I wouldn't take on a puppy like this myself, so I'm not trying to throw shade), and while it might improve with immediate professional intervention, there's also a big risk it will only get worse as he hits sexual maturity and starts getting big enough to be physically difficult to handle.

I'm sorry you're dealing with this, and wish you luck with resolving things whatever you decide to do.
 
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I also have a dog that is fear reactive (potentially fear aggressive) and would never, ever do it again. My boy had major issues from the time I brought him home at 8 weeks old, but he was a rescue and the rescue just wasn't experienced enough to realize what a problem it would be.

My boy will be managed for life. He will never be "normal" or do "normal" things, but he lives a full life that I am luckily able to provide. It's work, though. It's not easy.

If you aren't able to commit - and there is no shame in that - yes, return to breeder. Although to be honest I am very skeptical that the breeder will a) be able to just socialize the problem away or b) didn't know the puppy had issues before placing him with you. But I suppose it becomes their problem.
 

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It's a no on the doodle thing for me.

Poodles, particularly standard poodles, tend to be stable, healthy dogs. They are very active, alert, intelligent, and sensitive. In a breed that tends to have relatively low aggression, prey drive, territorialism, protectiveness, etc., that has been bred to be companions and clowns, maybe do some light retrieving - that is, a Poodle - these traits are all assets. But taking a breed that was created, say, to guard or to herd or to hunt, and then giving them a infusion of genetic Adderall? What makes Berners sweet house dogs is that they're on the phlegmatic, mild-mannered side. But they were bred to be guardians. What happens when you mix guardian instincts from the Bernese side with a genetic predisposition to be on high alert at all times from the Poodle side? It should be no surprise if you end up with a neurotic dog. You don't always get the best from each side, and even if you do, not all "good" traits are compatible. Two flavors that are delicious individually don't always mix to make something delicious together.

Let's be real: it's not always an advantage for a dog to be smarter or more active. Lots of breeds are charming and easy enough to handle because they're a bit lumpish. I think Berners fall into that category.

I would say if the breeder is going to take back the dog and find it a good home (or keep it in their good home), if you're going to rehome, then now's the time to rehome, while the dog is still in it's formative months, and still a cute puppy that will have no trouble finding an owner. Then consider whether it's a Berner or a Poodle (or some other breed) that you actually want, and get one of those instead from a good breeder.

And before I sound like a breed snob, I actually think the best way of getting a companion dog is to adopt an adult What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get type of dog from a shelter or rescue, one that super obviously has the temperamental and physical traits you like. Doesn't really matter what the mix or breed is if they suit your lifestyle and household. You can evaluate any individual adult dog for the traits you want. With a puppy you have to guess what it will grow up to be like, which is why you want the genetic dice loaded in your favor.
 

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My girlfriend and I have had our puppy (standard bernedoodle) for just over two weeks now. We are first time dog owners He is coming up on 12 weeks old. We got him from what, by all accounts, is a reputable breeder. She does genetic testing and has been involved with us providing advice and support.

Within the first few days of having him, we noticed some unusual behavior (fearfulness and fear-agression), and have been concerned that we may not be able to provide him with the help he needs to grow into a successful, safe, and happy adult. We have noticed a general level of fear and anxiety that is hard to manage/predict. He has on multiple occasions growled, barked, and lunged at strangers. We're worried what this behavior at such a young age means for his future. Strangely, his reaction to strangers is inconsistent, and doesn't seem to follow a pattern. Sometimes he approaches people like a normal, if somewhat timid, puppy. Other times he is running in the street to avoid interaction or lunging and barking at someone who approaches him.

We reached out to a behaviorist to get their impression and she pretty much said we should explore returning him to the breeder. We live in a somewhat populated area and are struggling to socialize him without triggering his fear. He will grow up to be around 75lbs, and we are not sure we have to the capacity or experience to train him and manage the kind of behavior we're worried about once he is that size. We are already in love with him, but are worried we are biting off more than we can chew. We want to make sure we are doing what is best for him. At the same time we're not sure we're ready for the amount of time/money/commitment a dog like this will require. All this wrapped up with a very normal case of the puppy blues has us struggling.

I have already reached out the the breeder and she echoed the behaviorist's concerns. She said if we needed to return him she would socialize him and find a better home for him. Both the behaviorist and breeder thought he might do better in a home with other dogs.

We're wondering if anyone has had a similar experience? Any advice?

Is it too premature to be making a decision like this?
It’s probably just unsocialized. Breeders breed and feed! They need played with love and exercise from the beginning.
 

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Lack of socialization can certainly amplify fearful tendencies in a puppy, especially one who is already prone to being nervous or environmentally sensitive. But it won't create the extreme fear reactions being described here in a puppy with a genetically stable temperament, especially starting at such a young age. The intensity of this puppy's behavior points to there being a serious genetic predisposition to fear and anxiety, and as such it's almost certainly going to take a lot more to address than following typical puppy socialization practices.
 
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It’s probably just unsocialized. Breeders breed and feed! They need played with love and exercise from the beginning.
This is beyond that and good breeders do, indeed, socialize puppies

Dogs have genetic temperaments and all the nurture in the world can help mitigate some problems but not all. This puppy sounds like one that love, attention and training would not help.
 

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Having a fear aggressive/reactive dog is certainly no small commitment. I have a reactive dog who has stranger danger issues, and I would never, ever, willingly go through it again. You have my sympathies. His case has become mild and is easily managed (for the most part). No amount of socialization is going to "cure" the issue...its genetic, and often gets worse as they get older. For example, my dog was perfectly fine with strangers coming into the house, strangers being near, and then around 10 months/1 year (something like that) a switch flipped and he just wasn't. Other than being a sensitive dog and timid and/or reactive to new things, there weren't many indicators. That your puppy is already showing such fearfulness is a fairly certain indicator that things are going to get worse before they get better.

I think that whether or not you can handle it are going to be dependent on your lifestyle. If you're someone who likes to have people over often, go out with your dog, or exercise your dog in areas with lots of people, it's going to be a much harder lifestyle change. If you're a homebody and rarely have strange (to the dog) people in the house or live in a quiet neighborhood where solitary walks are possible, it would be much easier.

-Doodles are "designer dogs", and the temperament issues are rampant. I've never heard of a reputable -doodle breeder and have yet to be impressed. If you should decide you want another dog, we would be more than happy to help you select a breeder who selects for health and temperament above all else. Some are very, very good at duping people into believing they're an ethical breeder.
I've met a few doodles with issues with fear or shyness, and I've met a couple that seem to be pretty well-rounded and well-behaved dogs. Could you tell me why you believe that you've never heard of a reputable doodle breeder? Not trying to be argumentative, but I would like to learn since I've seen doodles that are well-behaved and others that aren't so well-behaved.
 

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The simple truth is that doodles are mixed breeds. You may have a great X breed dog and a great poodle, but when you breed them together, you don't know what each puppy will get. While they each get 50% of their dna from each parent, the actual dna is random. So an X breed may give it's coat dna to puppy A, its longlegged dna to puppy B, and so on. No two puppies will get the same dna from both parents. So, just because the parents are both calm well-adjusted healthy dogs, any or all of the puppies could get dna from either parent that creates a health or temperament or personality issue.

Add to that, the dogs used for breeding such mixes are NOT the top dogs of the breed, don't have the best pedigrees, and so on. Thosee top representatives of the breed are being bred as purebred only. The dogs being bought to create these designer mixes are less than top quality. And that increases the odds that they will have dna in them that is NOT top quality for the breed, even if they look and act as if they are top quality.
 
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The simple truth is that doodles are mixed breeds. You may have a great X breed dog and a great poodle, but when you breed them together, you don't know what each puppy will get. While they each get 50% of their dna from each parent, the actual dna is random. So an X breed may give it's coat dna to puppy A, its longlegged dna to puppy B, and so on. No two puppies will get the same dna from both parents. So, just because the parents are both calm well-adjusted healthy dogs, any or all of the puppies could get dna from either parent that creates a health or temperament or personality issue.

Add to that, the dogs used for breeding such mixes are NOT the top dogs of the breed, don't have the best pedigrees, and so on. Thosee top representatives of the breed are being bred as purebred only. The dogs being bought to create these designer mixes are less than top quality. And that increases the odds that they will have dna in them that is NOT top quality for the breed, even if they look and act as if they are top quality.
Thank you! Yeah, I'm not fully convinced that mixed breeds are generally healthier than purebred dogs. For instance, if you breed a German Shepherd that's a carrier for hip dysplasia to a Labrador retriever that's a carrier for EIC, those genetic flaws don't just go away with the offspring. You end up with puppies that are prone to getting hip dysplasia and EIC.
 

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Crossbreeds are unlikely to be healthier than a purebred. Simply because they are breeding two less than ideal purebreds together and each puppy has a 50% chance of inheriting genetic issues from either side.

A true mixed breed dog is more likely to have at least 3 breeds in them. And each additional breed in the mix lowers the odds of inheriting genetic issues.
 
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I've met a few doodles with issues with fear or shyness, and I've met a couple that seem to be pretty well-rounded and well-behaved dogs. Could you tell me why you believe that you've never heard of a reputable doodle breeder? Not trying to be argumentative, but I would like to learn since I've seen doodles that are well-behaved and others that aren't so well-behaved.
I'd point out that irresponsible breedings can result in dogs with nice temperaments and/or good health...but it's by luck, not by design. Responsible breeding removes a lot of the unpredictability. That there are some good outcomes doesn't mean the practice overall is sound.

Crossbreeds are unlikely to be healthier than a purebred. Simply because they are breeding two less than ideal purebreds together and each puppy has a 50% chance of inheriting genetic issues from either side.
While this is broadly true, I do think there are some genetic issues that are so endemic to certain breeds that they only way they can be seriously remedied at this point is with careful outcrossing (e.g. mitral valve issues in Cavs). This breeding project in Dalmatians is a great model for how to approach these situations: The Dalmatian/Pointer Backcross Project: Overcoming 20th Century Attitude about Crossbreeding - TUFTSBG2011 - VIN
 

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Just going to gently remind people to keep the thread focused on the original poster and the difficulties they're facing with their puppy. Everything's been respectful and kind and I do appreciate that - feel free to make a separate thread if you wish to keep discussing the issues of doodle/mixed breed breeding!
 

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My girlfriend and I have had our puppy (standard bernedoodle) for just over two weeks now. We are first time dog owners He is coming up on 12 weeks old. We got him from what, by all accounts, is a reputable breeder. She does genetic testing and has been involved with us providing advice and support.

Within the first few days of having him, we noticed some unusual behavior (fearfulness and fear-agression), and have been concerned that we may not be able to provide him with the help he needs to grow into a successful, safe, and happy adult. We have noticed a general level of fear and anxiety that is hard to manage/predict. He has on multiple occasions growled, barked, and lunged at strangers. We're worried what this behavior at such a young age means for his future. Strangely, his reaction to strangers is inconsistent, and doesn't seem to follow a pattern. Sometimes he approaches people like a normal, if somewhat timid, puppy. Other times he is running in the street to avoid interaction or lunging and barking at someone who approaches him.

We reached out to a behaviorist to get their impression and she pretty much said we should explore returning him to the breeder. We live in a somewhat populated area and are struggling to socialize him without triggering his fear. He will grow up to be around 75lbs, and we are not sure we have to the capacity or experience to train him and manage the kind of behavior we're worried about once he is that size. We are already in love with him, but are worried we are biting off more than we can chew. We want to make sure we are doing what is best for him. At the same time we're not sure we're ready for the amount of time/money/commitment a dog like this will require. All this wrapped up with a very normal case of the puppy blues has us struggling.

I have already reached out the the breeder and she echoed the behaviorist's concerns. She said if we needed to return him she would socialize him and find a better home for him. Both the behaviorist and breeder thought he might do better in a home with other dogs.

We're wondering if anyone has had a similar experience? Any advice?

Is it too premature to be making a decision like this?
I would take him to doggy daycare maybe once a week for socializing. It does work wonders.
 

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I would take him to doggy daycare maybe once a week for socializing. It does work wonders.
OMG, PLEASE don't take a fearful, anxious dog to doggy daycare or a dogpark to "socialize" him. At best, those are appropriate venues for a dog who is well-adjusted and confident. A good doggy daycare won't even allow a dog with the kinds of behaviors that you are describing.

Too many people think that socialization means throwing a dog in with a bunch of humans and dogs and hoping for the best. That is not what it means at all.
 
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